Whitmer plot could affect fight for battleground Michigan
Gretchen Whitmer knew she would be in the spotlight on Thursday. And she decided not to waste it.
Hours after the FBI announced that a group of anti-government guards planned to kidnap them, the Democratic governor of Michigan reached out to their state - and the nation - with a message that didn't crush words for which they threatened blamed: President Donald Trump was complicit in "giving comfort to those who spread fear, hatred and division".
It was a familiar move for a governor who has repeatedly fought heated public fights with the president that may only hurt him in one key state against Democrat Joe Biden. While risking politicizing the moment, the governor said Friday that she hadn't thought twice about calling the president.
"I am raising two daughters, one of whom I also want to be brave and tell the truth to power," Whitmer said in an interview with the Associated Press.
Whitmer's speech had the expected effect. Instead of worrying about her safety or health, Trump said she did "a terrible job as governor" and "instead of saying thank you, she calls me a white supremacist," reminding voters of the state of defense the president is defending for the distance. right groups.
Some Republicans feared on Friday that Trump's reaction would hurt him in a state he is desperate to win on November 3rd. And the Michigan Republicans who criticized Trump expressed disbelief that the GOP state leaders failed to shout at, or even lightly reprimand, Trump.
"I am amazed that in the last 24 hours no new Republican has come out of Trump's rhetoric," said Jeff Timmer, a former Republican strategist who has distanced himself from the party since Trump was elected. "Nobody dared stick their head out."
After GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey issued a statement Thursday offering "thoughts and prayers" to the governor and her family, he took part in a demonstration to support the lifting of Whitmer's restrictions on state-owned enterprises to use.
Whitmer's remarks were aimed at addressing Michigan Republicans who were unhappy with the state of their party. She quoted President Ronald Reagan's 1981 address to the NAACP condemning Americans "who still have perverse ideas about what America is about."
Whitmer said Friday she pulled the quote to emphasize that "being a good American leader is not a partisan thing. It's about realizing that there is no room for hatred, prejudice and violence in America. ... and.. each of us should oppose it. "
As a former Senate minority leader and senior Democratic negotiator under Republican Governor Rick Snyder, Whitmer "won't shy away from a fight," said John Anzalone, pollster and senior aide, during her campaign for governor in 2018. "That's a big part their personality. "
Fighting back was a good policy for the governor.
Whitmer's approval rating was way ahead of Trump's in the state. A majority in Michigan is in favor of her achievement, a move that has grown steadily as she deals with the pandemic. Meanwhile, Trumps has been bogged down well below 50% while his campaign has signaled concerns about carrying the state a second time, campaign aides have said privately.
Trump won Michigan in 2016 by less than a percentage point and must win it again along with Wisconsin or Pennsylvania and every other state he wore back then to get the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win re-election.
Trump is facing strong headwinds in Oakland County, once the GOP stronghold and home of mainstream Republicans like Mitt Romney. But the influx of younger, more racially diverse families into the county has changed its political appearance. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the county, an upscale suburb in northwest Detroit.
Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel, a colleague of Michigander, said through a spokesman that the president's response was appropriate, adding, "Why is no one asking Governor Whitmer whether your baseless attack on the president is appropriate?"
Whitmer has severely curtailed personal movement and the economy to stop the virus from spreading, although many of those limits have been lifted since the spring. The governor exchanged barbs with Trump on social media. The President declared in April: "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"
Opponents of Whitmer's orders demonstrated at the Michigan Capitol the following month, some armed with semi-automatic assault rifles. However, there was no indication in the criminal complaint that the men in the act of abduction were inspired by Trump.
Authorities also did not publicly say whether the men were upset with Whitmer's coronavirus orders.
In a debate with Biden last week, Trump did not clearly denounce the white supremacist groups and instead told a right-wing group, the Proud Boys, who are active across Michigan, "stand back and stand by."
Michigan Republican John Sellek, who led Romney's 2012 Michigan campaign, said soft Republicans looking for one final reason to support Biden can find one in Trump's response to Whitmer.
"Just like in the first debate about what the president could have done when asked, he clearly could have knocked down white supremacists," Sellek said. "And he obviously didn't."
This story has been updated to correct the last name of Governor Rick Snyder von Scott and the spelling of the surname of Michigan's Republican John Sellek von Selleck
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